Open plan offices a health hazard!



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Australian researchers have found evidence which supports the sneaky suspicion held by many that working in an open plan office could be a health hazard.

According to Dr. Vinesh Oommen from Queensland’s University of Technology shocking evidence has been found on the health hazards of working in such environments.

Dr. Oommen’s evidence comes from a large-scale review he carried out on everything written and researched regarding open-plan offices and how they affect employees and he says the news is not good as the evidence found was absolutely shocking.

It seems that in 90% of research, the outcome of working in an open-plan office was seen as negative, with open-plan offices causing high levels of stress, conflict, high blood pressure and a high staff turnover.

Dr. Oommen says it has been found that the high level of noise causes employees to lose concentration, leading to low productivity and there are also privacy issues because everyone can see what is being done and being said and this causes a feeling of insecurity.

He says there are also higher chances of workplace conflicts engendered by such close contact and people are more easily irritated by each other.

Dr. Oommen suggests that working in an open-plan office could also contribute to higher blood pressure and an increased risk of illnesses, as bugs such as the influenza virus are easily passed around in that environment.

Dr. Oommen says employers around the country need to rethink the open-plan environment in their offices as the research revealed that the traditional set up of small, private closed offices was far better.

However, he believes some workplaces may be unwilling to change their office style as open-plan designs can save 20% on construction but he points out that employers with a happy workforce have a low staff turnover and lower absenteeism and an office environment that promotes health and high productivity would be more beneficial to employers in the long run.

The study is published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Health Management.

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